Toronto Mayor Rob Ford apologises for oral-sex remarks
Troubled Toronto Mayor Rob Ford has apologised for obscene comments he made on live TV while denying he had offered oral sex to a female staff member.
The Canadian politician used what he called "unforgivable language", in remarks to reporters.
He also threatened to take legal action against former employees who made claims about his drinking and drug use.
It is the latest scandal to engulf 44-year-old Mr Ford, who last week admitted smoking crack cocaine.
Police documents released on Wednesday quoted Ford associates as saying that the mayor had driven drunk, used racially abusive language, threatened staff, consorted with a woman suspected of being a prostitute and made a sexual proposition to a female staff member.'Particularly disappointing'
On Thursday morning, he told reporters the allegations were "outright lies", although he conceded he might have driven after taking alcohol.
However, reporters were left gasping by his profane outburst as he denied having once offered oral sex to a former female employee.
The father of two young children said that he was "happily married" and crudely commented that he enjoyed enough oral sex at home.
Later on Thursday, Mr Ford was flanked by his wife, Renata, as he expressed regret for the "graphic" language, the latest in a string of apologies.
He said his integrity as a father and husband had been attacked, prompting him to "see red".
End Quote Kathleen Wynne Ontario Premier
The things we are seeing and hearing about Mayor Rob Ford are truly disturbing”
"I acted on complete impulse in my remarks," he said.
Mr Ford also announced he was getting help from healthcare professionals.
The erratic mayor was wearing a Toronto Argonauts jersey when he made the sexually charged comments.
The Canadian Football League team said in a statement: "These latest remarks, while wearing our team's jersey, are particularly disappointing."'Stubborn, pig-headed'
Councillor Karen Stintz later said the city had suspended all school trips to city hall indefinitely because staff deemed it unsafe.
Meanwhile, many of the 44-member city council turned their backs on the mayor as he addressed political matters.
Canadian paper review
"If you can't get rid of an ogre, at least weaken him and lessen the damage he does," says an editorial in the Toronto Star, which refers to measures being considered by the Toronto authorities to cut Rob Ford's mayoral power. "The proposed actions aren't enough, of course. Anything that leaves this abusive, drunken, drug-using, out-of-control con man at the helm of Canada's largest city necessarily falls short."
The Globe and Mail backs Ontario premier Kathleen Wynne's suggestion that Toronto ask the provincial government based at Queen's Park to intervene: "City council alone can't save Toronto from its disgrace of a mayor. But together with Queen's Park, it can."
The Toronto Sun refers to an Ipsos Reid poll of Toronto voters, a year ahead of mayoral elections, which placed Rob Ford third in a list of candidates. "The bad news for Ford, as Ipsos Reid notes, is that he is 'not terribly competitive in any scenario' and his 'hopes for re-election are bleak'."
Christie Blatchford in the National Post says the Toronto police probe into the city mayor has been flawed. "The police did by the back door what for some reason they were unwilling to do by the front, that is, with an arrest and charge."
"This is one of the most stubborn, pig-headed people I think we have ever seen," said Councillor Janet Davis.
"He seems to have no self-awareness, no core of moral character. It is stunning."
In his initial remarks on Thursday, the mayor had vowed legal action against his former chief of staff and two other aides over allegations they made to police, detailed in legal papers released on Wednesday.
The police interviews were conducted to obtain a search warrant for Alexander Lisi, Mr Ford's friend and occasional driver, whom police accuse of marijuana possession and trafficking.
The mayor also threatened litigation against a waiter who said he believed Mr Ford and a woman had snorted cocaine in a private room at a restaurant on St Patrick's Day 2012.
On Wednesday, the city council voted 41-2 requesting he take leave, but they have no authority to remove him. Mr Ford has vowed to stay on and run for re-election in October 2014.
Ontario Premier Kathleen Wynne suggested the provincial government could intervene, as she made a televised statement on Thursday.
"The things we are seeing and hearing about Mayor Rob Ford are truly disturbing," she said.
But it was not all bad news for the conservative mayor, who was elected in 2010 on a pledge to tackle wasteful spending at city hall.
It was announced that Mr Ford and his brother, Councillor Doug Ford, would get their own TV talk show next Monday, entitled Ford Nation.
The deal with Sun News Network follows last week's cancellation of the brothers' popular weekly radio show with a local broadcaster.
Rob Ford's troubled mayoralty
- May 2013: Media report they have seen a video apparently showing him smoking crack cocaine
- May / June: Mayor denies such footage exists, but multiple Ford staffers resign
- August: He seems intoxicated in an official appearance at a street festival. Later, he tells media he has smoked "a lot of marijuana"
- October: Alexander Lisi, a former driver for Ford, is arrested on drug charges; police say they have the drug video
- 5 Nov: "I have smoked crack cocaine," the mayor admits, saying he did so "in a drunken stupor"
- 7 Nov: A second video surfaces showing a foul-mouthed Ford threatening to kill an unspecified person
- 13 Nov: He admits to buying drugs in the past two years; allegations emerge linking him to cocaine and prostitution
- 14 Nov: Ford makes lewd comments about oral sex and says he might have driven while drunk